Looking for Miss America

Looking for Miss America

A Pageant's 100-year Quest to Define Womanhood

Book - 2020
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From an author praised for writing "delicious social history" (Dwight Garner, The New York Times ) comes a lively account of memorable Miss America contestants, protests, and scandals--and how the pageant, nearing its one hundredth anniversary, serves as an unintended indicator of feminist progress

Looking for Miss America is a fast-paced narrative history of a curious and contradictory institution. From its start in 1921 as an Atlantic City tourist draw to itscurrent incarnation as a scholarship competition, the pageant has indexed women'sstatus during periods of social change--the post-suffrage 1920s, the Eisenhower 1950s, the#MeToo era. This ever-changing institution has been shaped by war, evangelism, the rise oftelevision and reality TV, and, significantly, by contestants who confounded expectations.

Spotlighting individuals, from Yolande Betbeze, whose refusal to pose in swimsuits ledan angry sponsor to launch the rival Miss USA contest, to the first black winner, VanessaWilliams, who received death threats and was protected by sharpshooters in her hometownparade, Margot Mifflin shows how women made hard bargains even as they used the pageantfor economic advancement. The pageant's history includes, crucially, those it excluded; thenotorious Rule Seven, which required contestants to be "of the white race," was retired in the 1950s, but no women of color were crowned until the 1980s.

In rigorously researched, vibrant chapters that unpack each decade of the pageant, Looking for Miss America examines the heady blend of capitalism, patriotism, class anxiety, and cultural mythology that has fueled this American ritual.

Publisher: Berkeley, California :, Counterpoint,, 2020, ©2020.
Edition: First hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781640092235
Branch Call Number: 791. 66 MIF
Characteristics: 310 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some colour) ; 24 cm


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